Friday, October 29, 2010

Who's coming to Monterey??

Still hoping I get the clearance to be away from USC for this, but anyone in the area, please come if you can!! There will be Cash AND prizes (Please call Beverly if you have something you would like to donate - or you can get a hold of me at The funds raised will help us pay for my medical bills and medications now... and trust me when I say we can use all the help we can get.  It will be a fun night!
A very special (and huge) Thank You to my Aunt Bev and everyone who is helping put this together for us.  <3

Live Life then Give Life!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

There's no place like home!!

Surprise visit @ USC

Ahhhh!! Guys, these last 2 days have been so awesome. First off, my amazing friends Patty V and Melissa G flew down to LA just to visit lil' oh me at USC! I feel so blessed to have some amazing friends and family. (Even some family came down for my surgery, including my cousin Boo who flew all the way down from Oregon just to support me for my this scary and exciting moment.) I mean come on!! How amazing are these people!! My mom and sis helped my girls plan the surprise and even though I wasn't quite feeling good enough to go out with them after, just them being there when I got released meant so much to me! We sat and talked about old times (ok gossiped mostly-but nicely) while I finished my magnificient magnesium, and Patty nearly fainted as I explained just how far a picc line goes in (and again when she saw the nurse come in) tehehehe. They are so great, makes me wanna cry. Then I got home (I know I'm skipping over a lot of stuff.... I didn't escape, the doctors let me out. They didn't really want to because my bilirubin is still so high, and my LFT's are still up - basically in those 3 - yes 3 weeks, nothing at all was resolved, only new weird things, like my first faint from internal bleeding, and stents in my bile ducts. But I think they knew I needed to go home - there was a sort of wild desperation in my eyes) Anyways, yes, then I got home. Took my first bath in 3 months (couldn't before because of the surgery site) ate some dinner Jason brought from Cheesecake Factory, caught up on a few episodes of Sons of Anarchy, and went to bed in my own bed. Then this morning, I laid with River on his little bed and watched him sleep for a while. So peaceful! I got up and fed the cats and let them out on the porch and then sat by the window quietly for a bit (until the wild child woke up) In the afternoon I made us some hot chocolate and set up the fire pit outside, and we sat there for a while on this gloomy day. My mom brought over a little board game my aunt had gotten for River and we played that a few times. It truely is the little things that are Gods greatest blessings!! Physically I don't feel much different then when I went in, but mentally, I'm appreciating life even more.

One more thing before I go! The power of one person is truly amazing. I just want to show this little picture - seen by thousands on the Television. Made possible by my friends at Garcia Boxing. Eloy Perez has gone green... for organ donation that is. Everyone of us can become a voice for what we believe in, just get the word out as much as possible and eventually someone will see the passion in your heart!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sicki Ricki

Sicki Ricki sat in her room
Sicki Ricki fell down and went BOOM
All USC's doctors, and all USC's men
Sent her up to ICU then.

heeeheee I'm like Andrew Dice Clay... only not so degrading. And as you can see... VERY bored.
I have now been in the hospital almost 3 complete weeks, and let me tell you, it is hard to stay sane in here. So you may know already, but blood -- you really need that stuff. How do I know? Well it all started about 2 weeks ago. (hehehe - just kidding with the dramatics) Anyway, I had been in for about a week, and the docs were still baffled at why my LFTs (Liver Function Test) were bouncing around so much, and did not just want to chalk it up the Hepatitis C so they decided to do a little more of an invasive test to check the bile ducts (my Bilirubin was up to 10.2 and they didn't quite trust the results of the MRCP - it's like an MRI) So they decided to to an ERCP which is when they actually go down your throat with a camera to the bile ducts and take a little looksy. They did see a little bit of narrowing of the ducts this time, about 25%, but it really wasn't enough be causing my numbers to be as high as they have been. They placed some stints there just in case and we all just hoped that it would do the trick. About 4 days went by and my numbers were still rising and I was feeling worse, with added weakness, dizziness, and something a lil gross - Black poo. I had mentioned it to one of the doctors (I thought maybe one of the medicines I was now taking was the culprit) Just a few hours later, I got up to go to the bathroom and had the spins a little, but by the time I started walking back to my bed, my head was in a sweat and the room was whirling around me, when I thought to myself... I feel like I'm gonna pass....... boom. The next thing I remember I was looking up wondering what I was doing with my arm twisted behind me on the floor. I was bleeding internally. I guess, though not common, an ulcer can form (mighty quickly) at the site and just slowly leaks blood. Mine had gotten bad enough to cause the fainting spell. (I would not make a graceful damsel in distress) After that they took me to ICU and gave me a few units of blood. The next day there was another camera down my throat to fix the "leak", another unit of blood and I started to feel a little better. I joke now, but actually those 4 or 5 days in ICU were probably tougher then the rest of the time I've spent here this stay. Not only do you feel like a fish in a bowl (there is one whole wall that is just glass facing the nurses station. I was hooked up to IV's pumping me full of fluids and antibiotics that kept me going pee every hour, and I was hooked up to so many other monitors that had to be removed every time you had to get up, that I didn't even want to get out of bed to go... which by the way, the toilet was literally 1 inch away from the glass door, with only a curtain for privacy. Nice.To top it off, no shower and the smell of everyone else sick in ICU wafting into your room... (That's all I'll say about that) By the time I got out of there and back to a regular room, I didn't even care that I was still in the hospital... well almost. (Oh, and some interesting info -- to get rid of smells you can put coffee grounds in a little bowl, it soaks up the yucky smells and makes you feel like you're in Starbucks) Any ways, it was tough, and I found myself becoming more and more discouraged. I mean they are telling me that they really don't know what is wrong but I am getting sick again, and the only thing I kept thinking was "Well let me outta here then so that I can enjoy the precious time I have left with my family." I mean I haven't even gotten a Halloween costume for River yet. I was even crying to Jason to just sneak me out and take me home... "I'll come back... eventually" but he wouldn't do it. Once I got back down to the 6th floor, where I usually stay, logic started coming back, and self-pity started leaving. This really is just a bump in the road. No one really knows when they are going to go - no matter what a doctor may think.And, there are so many out there even worse off then me, many sleeping in the rooms in this hospital. I just have to continue what I was doing, go with the flow, pray for the best, and expect anything.

Hopefully I will get out with in a few days so that I can enjoy the rest of the Halloween season. Take River to the pumpkin patch and the Disneyland Halloween bash!! But for now, I am going to call the nurse in to give me some Benadryl, wrap my feet in cold washcloths (to help with the itching) and call it a night.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

They call me Mellow Yellow

...But not today! I'm still yellow, but not mellow. I have been in here 10 days now and was told that I will be in until Friday at the earliest. Tomorrow the docs want to do an ERCP (where they go down the throat to check out the bile ducts) and are hoping that there is a huge bile duct stricture (in the doctors words) but sadly, I have a feeling they won't find one. I am guessing that it is just the Hepatitis C coming back. According to the Hepatologists, it is coming back pretty strong, so they want to start the treatments again on me pretty soon... like next week soon. Rats - I was hoping to wait at least until the new year... I did the treatments already in 2001 with no response, except the response from my body saying it did NOT like it. I lost a lot of my hair, stayed in bed (garbage can close at hand) with chills, aching bones, headaches, for many many months. And this time I have a 4 year old to take care of and all during the holiday season. (Yes, I'm whining right now) Oh and... they said the percentage of me going into remission drops from 50% to 25% after transplant, but they don't think I have time to wait for the new treatments to come out before starting. Needless to say, I need LOTS O PRAYER right now - it sounds weird, but we're praying for them to find a bile duct stricture. hehehe. Other then that, everything is doing pretty good. I can tell my husband and mom are becoming tired again, so hopefully they will let me out soon, besides, I really am getting sick of the food here. (Don't worry... mentally I am actually ok - there is just really no other way to put all this information without sounding like a whine... the only thing I am whining about is having to start the treatments before all the holidays... I love to decorate, bake, and shop a lot these next few months, and I have a feeling I won't be feeling it this year so much now.) ...but who knows, maybe with my new liver I will still have more energy then I'm giving myself credit for. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Poker with a Purpose

The Hyatt Monterey
1 Old Golf Course
Monterey, CA

Saturday, November 20, 2010
Starts at 5:30PM
$60.00 Buy in
WIN Cash and Prizes!!

Mark your calender for a Poker tournament to help Ricki and her family pay for the medical expenses of her second gift of life. OH YA, it's gonna be AWESOME.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day Six

Day 6 and I won't be going home today either. Though my LFT's did drop some, they want to keep me at least until tomorrow. Yup, that will be 7 days... the same amount of days I was in for the actual transplant itself.
A bit of good news though is that my immuno-suppressants have been lowered again. I am on only ONE pill a day, whoo hoo. 0.5mg of prograf one time in the morning. Dr Matsuoka came in this morning to tell me, and as long as my labs don't start going up, they will be able to keep me on this dosage. This should help to keep my HepC at bay, and also of course just helps so that I do not have so many of the side effects that go along with all the drugs that are usually needed to keep my body from rejecting this new liver... but I knew that Sally was going to feel right at home. hehe. Speaking of home... man, I miss my home!! Jason brought River to visit yesterday and today, and besides his million questions and making me nauseous from moving the bed up and down, up and down... it was great to see them. The other day my mom said that he was standing outside and picked a dandelion to make a wish. He thought real hard and decided to use his wish on wishing me better and coming home soon. I'm coming bubba!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Biopsy #4

Last week, I started to lose my appetite again, (just ask my full pint of Ben & Jerry's "Half-Baked" ice cream from the week before that is still in the freezer - almost untouched) and not only that, I am now nauseous after I eat again too. It feels like it did prior to my transplant, and that scares me... I don't know if it is mental or what, but it seems even more difficult to deal with the sickness this second time around. (It's probably mental) This Monday when I went in for my clinic appointment I was even worse then the week before, and my labs showed it. All of my LFT's were up, even my Bilirubin, which had been one that stayed within normal range, was at 4.1 (which is why I have been so itchy and a lil yellow looking). The doctors admitted me again -- which this time, I wasn't so disappointed because maybe I could get some good meds via I.V. for some temporary relief.  However, it wasn't all fun and games for me... hehe... Wednesday they broke the news that they wanted to do another biopsy that morning, yup, that's biopsy #4 for those counting... Luckily there was no rejection, but the Hep C was again showing its ugly head, my new lil liver is inflamed. (Sorry Nancy - you gave me a perfect sliver and look at what I've done with it) Of course I fear the worse at times - the other 3 HepC patients that I am aware of that had transplants, have not shown signs of inflammation yet, and they are 3 months to 6 years post transplant. But deep down, I have a good feeling that somehow I will be ok, just not as quickly as I had thought and hoped for.
Because my liver is showing signs of HepC instead of rejection, my doctors have began lowering my anti-rejection meds... which is a blessing in itself. As of today, instead of the 14 pills I was originally taking (only counting the anti-rejection pills) I am down to 2 pills... alltogether that is less then 10 a day that I take. whoooo hooo... and as long as I do not show any signs of rejection, it will stay like that, which means I will be less likely to get skin cancer, diabetes, heart or kidney disease then I would have if I had to stay on all those original meds.(That is one smart body I have, it knows not to reject a good thing. hehe) Now hopefully since they have reduced all these meds, my LFT's will start to drop and there won't be any more inflammation right now.
For now, the doctors had a conference yesterday and discussed my case. They are debating on whether or not to start the interferon treatment again on me... and if so, when to start it. This is another thing that is really hard for me to think about right now... I was just getting used to feeling good and these treatments really put me through the ringer last time, and now I'm almost 10 years older. I do trust in my doctors though. I have prayed very hard that God guides them through each decision with me. But again, hopefully my LFT's will drop and there will be no need for treatment yet anyways... and then maybe I can get home and start doing some livin'. I've been in here 1 day short of my actual transplant! and that is depressing!! Even River is saying he misses me... and usually he is just happy to be at his Ahma's house with the dogs (and doing just about anything he wants) but my mom said that yesterday he picked a dandelion and before he blew it he wished for me to be better and come home. Isn't that the cutest!?! He has such a beautiful little soul. I can't believe I haven't seen him in 6 days - that is definitely the toughest part of being here.
Well it is 4:00AM and they just came in to draw my blood... Praying the LFT's are down and Sally is a happy liver again. I'll keep ya posted.

Oh, and thank you guys all again!! Your prayers and warm wishes really help to get me through! :)